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10 best bike lights for late-night visibility

Bike lights aren’t just useful for visibility, it’s actually against the law to ride at night without them, so make sure you invest in a durable pair

iStockphoto/The Independent

The law says you can’t ride in the dark without lights and reflectors, so stay safe and legal with a pair of front and rear units from our selection.

And there’s no reason to take them off your bike when the sun is out as a study from 2012 showed a 19 per cent reduction in accidents among riders using lights in the daytime.

With so many distracted drivers and zombie pedestrians around, a decent set could buy you the fractions of a second you need to avoid a nasty collision.

Today’s LED lights are smaller and brighter than ever, with batteries offering burn times running into many hours. USB charging also means you can get a sneaky top up at your desk before your commute home.

You’ll see the term lumens cropping up again and again in our tests – it’s a measure of output, with one lumen being about the same as a full moon on a clear night.

It’s estimated you need at least 100 lumens to be seen in daylight and more than 600 to light your way home on an unlit road at night.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. 

See.Sense icon 2 front and rear bike light set: £149.99 (rear-only: £79.99), See.Sense   

We loved the original icon bike lights, but See.Sense has excelled itself with this redesigned version. They are thinner and lighter, at less than 60g each, yet offer massively increased output – 400 lumens at the front and 300 at the rear (the old ones were 150 at the front, 125 rear). The designers have gone for two different types of LED. There’s a COB (chip on board) version offering a more diffuse output – giving 270-degree visibility – plus a single, super-bright Cree light that grabs the attention from up to 3km away.

They fix to your bike via a little plastic mount held in place by O-rings. It looks flimsy but there’s a video on the See.Sense website showing the lights staying put on a bike dropped from a second-storey balcony. Clever tech means the lights sense dangerous moments on your ride and change their flash patterns to make you more visible. As if by magic, they can work out when you are braking for junctions or filtering into traffic.

There’s also a phone app to unlock extra features such as theft warnings and to trigger alerts to warn a contact if you crash. You can also tailor the flash patterns to suit your preferences. See.Sense promise up to 16 hours of use depending on your chosen flash pattern.

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Proviz LED 360 bike light set: £59.99, Proviz

Proviz is the king of reflective cycling gear and now it’s making lights too. This sleek-looking set offers USB charging and water resistance. Both units use quality LEDs made by Cree plus Samsung batteries. There’s 300 lumens output at the front and 220-degree wide angle coverage at the back to make you that bit more visible from the sides. The front light clips into a plastic mount that’s held in place by a quick release lever, while the rear uses a simple O-ring. Run-time at the front ranges from six hours on full power to up to 13 on a flashing “SOS” setting. At the rear you’ll get 3.5 hours on full or up to 6.5 on flashing.

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FWE rechargeable bike light set 300/30 lumen: £35, Evans Cycles

If you need a budget set for occasional use or to get you home in an emergency, these should fit the bill. Both lights have rugged alloy bodies, USB charging and are secured by O-rings. The front unit can be clipped out of its mount making it handy to use as a torch too.

Output is up to an impressive 300 lumens at the front and 30 at the rear, with run times of up to 12 hours in flashing mode.

A quick double click turns them on and you can check the amount of charge left in the front light by holding the power button down for a few seconds. Our only criticism is that the front light slides out of its mount quite easily if you knock it, so clumsier commuters might want to wrap a rubber band around it for extra security.

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Knog mid cobber bike light: £59.99, Evans

This rear light is brilliant in more ways than one. As well as packing a 170 lumens punch in flashing mode, the clever semi-wraparound design gives it a 330-degree viewing angle. That means you’ll be much more visible to drivers sideways at junctions and roundabouts. It will run for up to 100 hours in flashing mode or two and a half at a steady 170 lumens output. The light attaches to a magnetic mount that’s secured to your seatpost via an O-ring, and you can head online to the Knog website to customise the flash patterns to your own taste.

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Brightside bike light: £22.99, Halfords

Crossing junctions at night or in low light fills us with dread – after all, 70 per cent of accidents happen at intersections and roundabouts. But this clever light should catch the eye of any driver. It fits sideways on to your frame and flashes an amber warning for up to 20 hours on a single charge, with both day and night-time settings. You can top up the charge at your desk thanks to a USB port, and at £22.99 we reckon it’s a bit of a bargain.

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Beryl laserlight core bike light: £69.99, Beryl

Project and survive is the idea behind this clever gadget. It beams a bright green laser image of a bike onto the road just ahead of you, warning drivers you’re there. It’s a great night-time safety feature, especially if you find yourself stuck in a vehicle’s blind spot. You can set it to steady or flashing mode at the click of a button.

There’s an additional white light with up to 400 lumens of output – again with flashing and steady settings – to light your way home in the dark or catch motorists’ eyes in daylight. Beryl claims you can run it for up to 41 hours on the lowest output setting and it’s got a two-year warranty.

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Beryl burner brake bike light: £39.99, Beryl

We loved this clever 200 lumens alternative to a standard rear light. It can sense when you are braking and flashes brighter to warn any traffic around you. We tested it with our riding buddies and found it worked really well. It attaches to your bike via a silicone mount that will fit fancy aero seat post as well as standard round ones. Holding the central button turns the light on and off, while another press allows you to click through all five lighting modes. Charging is via USB and is lightning fast – it will hit full load in 90 minutes and run for up to 17 hours.

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BikeHut 1600 lumen front bike light: £50, Halfords

A beast from Halfords’ own brand BikeHut, this one uses three quality Cree-made LEDs and a trio of lithium-ion batteries to pack an unbelievable 1600 lumens punch. It’s seriously bright, meaning you can ride down dark lanes at night in safety. There’s a power indicator to tell you how much running time you have left and it can double up as a power bank if you need to charge gadgets while on an adventure. It comes with an out front mount that will hold a Garmin bike computer too, saving space on your handlebars. But if you don’t ride with a computer you can just use the standard rubber strap mount that’s included in the box.

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Lezyne stripdrive 150 bike light: £29.99, Tweeks Cycles

This tough cookie is rugged enough to stand up to the rigours of the daily commute. It’s water resistant and the USB port is protected by a sturdy rubber cap to keep out the weather. Five LEDs provide up to 150 lumens of output and it will charge from empty in two hours. It’s got 11 different modes including flashing and daytime ones, so you’ll certainly be able to find the perfect setting for your ride.

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Exposure traceR daybright bike light: £45, Evans Cycles

The traceR might be tiny but its output is eye-catching and it’s ideal for commuting and road riding. The aluminium body is not much bigger than your thumb and sits neatly on your seat post in a strap-on plastic mount. You can choose between three different intensities up to a maximum 75 lumens, and each has a steady and flashing mode. The lowest intensity flash will give you up to 24 hours of running time on a full battery. When you switch it off, the light gives a green or red indicator to let you know if you needs a top up. The USB port is protected by a band which is quite fiddly to remove, but the overall build quality is superb.

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The verdict: Bike lights

See.Sense are a great buy for both commuters and racers who want some extra protection while putting in the training miles. You’ll find the quirky Beryl laserlight core makes a great talking point among your fellow commuters, but if you need extra illumination at a great price take a look at the mighty 1600 lumens offering from BikeHut.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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